I can’t remember the first time I tried lavender ice cream, but I do remember thinking it sounded weird at first… and possibly tasting like perfume (because really, who wants to eat linen spray?). Luckily for my tastebuds, it wasn’t and it didn’t, and I’ve been smitten with lavender-flavored sweets ever since.
I heart this recipe because even though it seems all kinds of bad in the diet department, it feels so good for you because the ingredients can be harvested from your garden right before you bring out the ice cream maker. And anything from the garden can’t be bad for you, right?
Lavender-lemon ice cream has a smooth and balanced medley of flavors… just hints of floral, sweet and tart all at once. If you don’t grow either of these herbs at home, you can order dried lavender online (look for culinary-grade lavender) or substitute lemon zest (or even lemon balm) to add that tangy note.
Sprinkle lemon zest on top for a pretty garnish, and you’ve got yourself a fresh and healthy treat for summer! (Wink!)
Lavender and Lemon Verbena Ice Cream
Makes 1 1/2 quarts
2 cups heavy cream, divided
2 cups whole milk
2 1/2 tablespoons dried lavender buds (or 1/2 cup fresh lavender buds)
1/2 cup packed fresh lemon verbena
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
Lemon zest (optional, for garnish)
The night before, put your ice cream freezer bowl in the freezer.
The day of, combine 1 cup heavy cream with the milk, lavender, lemon verbena, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. (Keep the remaining 1 cup heavy cream in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.)
Simmer the ingredients over medium-low heat until the edges start to bubble, but do not let the mixture boil. Let the herbs steep for 15 to 20 minutes on the lowest heat setting until the milk and cream are well infused.
While you wait, pour 1 cup cold heavy cream into a bowl and fit a fine mesh sieve over it.
Remove the milk mixture from heat and strain it into the bowl of heavy cream. Stir well.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. (And by the way, can I take a moment here to proudly show off this gorgeous yolk from one of my hens? Dark, firm, high and round and nearly unbreakable — it stayed intact even as I dropped it into the bowl from a height of 10 inches!)
Temper your yolks by adding a little bit of the milk mixture at a time and whisking it into the yolks. The resulting custard should be smooth and well blended.
Pour the custard into your saucepan and stir constantly over low heat until it becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 5 minutes).
Transfer the custard to a bowl and bring it to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for one to two hours, or overnight.
Once the custard is very cold, churn it in your ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions. After 15 to 20 minutes, your ice cream is ready to eat!
Homemade ice cream tends to have a soft-serve consistency when freshly churned, so if you like yours extra firm, you can scoop it all out into a freeze-proof container and let it freeze for a couple of hours before digging in. Sharing is optional. Enjoy!